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Archive for June 2010

Steve Simpson, University of Bristol, about his research into ocean sounds and how reef fish and corals use these cues to find their way home. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how research by him and his team of scientists has shown that corals, rather than drifting aimlessly after being released by their parent colonies and landing by chance back on reefs, instead find their way back purposefully by detecting reef noises like snapping shrimps and grunting fish. With coral reefs one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, that discovery has staggering implications as it could means that coral larvae might struggle to find reefs because human noise, like drilling or boats, might mask their sound. Steve Simpson is a Senior Researcher at the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences. As a marine biologist and fish ecologist, he has particular interests in coral reef fishes, commercial fisheries, climate change, fish behavior and aquaculture. Specifically, he works on: the effects of climate change on European fish communities; underwater noise and its influence on fish behavior; fish population biology and dispersal; and population connectivity and marine protected areas. His work combines overseas fieldwork, often in remote and challenging developing country environments, with laboratory-based behavior experiments and computer modeling. His research has appeared in numerous research journals as well as the popular press, including the Los Angeles Times, the UK Guardian and The Independent, among others.This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 28, 2010. Article and transcript available on Mongabay.com.

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Brazilian biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira discusses the illegal wildlife trade in Brazil. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the domestic market for pet birds and what role wildlife forensic research can play in helping to expose and stop this trade. She also discusses her genetic research into the DNA of four songbird species and how knowledge of their geographic origin can help with the rehabilitation and release of illegally captured animals. Juliana Machado Ferreira is a passionate Brazilian biologist who seeks to save the world one bird at a time. She is a TED Senior Fellow and is pursuing her doctorate in Conservation Genetics at the Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology and Vertebrate Conservation (LABEC) at São Paulo University. She also works with SOS Fauna. Her current research project involves developing species-specific molecular markers and population genetics studies of four passerine birds, with the aim to understand the distribution of their genetic variability and to track down the origin of birds seized from illegal trade. She works closely with the US National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, and her ultimate goal is to help set up a Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Brazil.This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 21, 2010.

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Doug Emlen, a University of Montana biology professor, discusses his research into the developmental and evolutionary biology of dung beetles in the second part of his two-part interview. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about his many adventures doing research--from being charged by cape buffalo as he picks through dung on the plains of Africa to the strange looks airline security gives him when he comes back from his travels to far-flung places with his carry-ons filled with dung beetles. He also talks about how he learned to smell howler monkeys so that he could locate their first dung of the morning – and thus find the dung beetles that were the real object of his desire. The interview also includes a discussion on predatory strategies related to dung. While most predators don’t use dung to find their prey, because by the time they find the dung the animals would be long gone, some animals, like sloths and koalas, move so slow that they use a different strategy of burying their dung so that predators can’t find them from the smell. You’ll find out how some specialized dung beetles have adapted and hang onto the backs of the animals until the opportune moment when they drop down to be buried with their prize. Dr. Emlen was always interested in animal armament and became even more interested after studying a species of dung beetle in Panama that specialized in howler monkey scat. Since then, he broadened his research to dung beetles all over the world and has noticed interesting patterns in their weaponry. Now, he’s focusing his research on the evolutionary forces that make animal weapons, from dung beetle horns to elk antlers to rhino horns, so diverse. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 14, 2010.

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Doug Emlen, a University of Montana biology professor, reveals the strange and endearing characteristics of dung beetles. In this first part of a two-part interview, Dr. Emlen tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the biology of dung beetles and what the diverse sizes and shapes of dung beetle horns and armaments reveals about their lifestyle. Doug Emlen is a professor of biology at the University of Montana and an expert on the evolution and development of bizarre and extreme shapes in insects. While he initially resisted the idea of studying dung beetles, a failure doing fieldwork for his PhD forced him to change his tune. Now, he’s a dung beetle aficionado – and you may be too after listening to the fascinating life of this strange group of creatures. Dr. Emlen was always interested in animal armament and became even more interested after studying a species of dung beetle in Panama that specialized in howler monkey scat. Since then, he broadened his research to dung beetles all over the world and has noticed interesting patterns in their weaponry. Now, he’s focusing his research on the evolutionary forces that make animal weapons, from dung beetle horns to elk antlers to rhino horns, so diverse. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 7, 2010.

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